Copyright © 2003, by John Lankford, Fort Smith, Arkansas

The New Testament writings provide some very clear information on God's agenda for preaching/teaching/writing to the general public. It is the presentation of evidence that Jesus is the Son of God! This was Luke's stated purpose (Luke 1:1-4). John's work centered on this theme (John 20:30-31). And Matthew structured his work around the fact that Jesus fulfilled the ideas/prophecies of the Old Testament. Mark tells what Jesus did that sets Him apart from being just another man. Acts clearly shows that proving that Jesus is Lord and Christ was the major thrust of the apostolic message to the public. To convince is the first step in "disciple making" (Matthew 28:18ff; Acts 2).

It is interesting to note what was not proclaimed to the public. While "doing good to all men" is what Jesus' disciples would joyfully do (Acts 10:38; Galatians 6:10; Ephesians 2:10), such do not prove that Jesus is the Son of God any more than the "good works" of Mormonism prove that Joseph Smith was a prophet. Hence, the message was not "join us because we are a sharing-caring group like no other" (example: Acts 2:44-45). Neither was it "come worship with us in a way that's simpler and better than the Temple ... and be sure to note that the instruments have been replaced by voices" (example: Acts 2:42; Ephesians 5:19) or is it "let's show you how baptism is really done." The need for the unbelieving public was to convince them that Jesus is the Son of God. And the Spirit drove the early church into this proclamation (Acts 2:14ff). That was God's agenda then and it has not changed: the public (and especially the campus) stills needs convincing!

How have Churches of Christ fared in effecting such an agenda? First, the Jule Miller Filmstrips was/is often the major "evangelistic" tool to reach the lost. But what does it try to convince people of? The main thrust is to "convince" people that the Church of Christ is the "door to heaven" ... that there is salvation in no other Church!! Little time is given to prove that Jesus died for sinners and how that is vindicated by His resurrection. Instead, it can become a "selling-of-the-church" instead of selling the Christ!

Second, as evidenced by our local newspaper, one preacher sees his public work is to "write wrongs" of other churches. There is never an appeal to the public to consider who Jesus is and what He did for mankind. Oddly, those like him call themselves "gospel preachers" even when the facts of the gospel are not even given serious coverage (1 Corinthians 15:3ff).

Third, it would be great if those in the pew never had any questions or needed any strengthening of their faith (Hebrews 6:1), but such is not realistic in today's unbelieving world. Disciples, new and old, often need to be assured that Christianity is true. Yet, little is done from pulpits or classes to meet these needs. As a result, disciples have a flimsy explanation for why Christianity is truth and something else is not. This is probably so because many have been "converted-to-the-church" instead of to Jesus as the Lord. And this could explain why many leave the faith at a later date.

Application: Dale Thompson (here in Fort Smith) recently gave a series of lessons on "Ten Reasons for the Existence of God." The public was given something to consider and probably First Baptist Church would be where they would gravitate to for more information. No matter how one sees his theology, he met the public at the right door. One part of God's agenda was served. And the faith of many in the pew was also firmed-up.

Those of us who are committed to "restoring" the basic shape of Christianity, like it originally was under the oversight of the apostles and Holy Spirit, would do well to start restoring the practice of meeting the public, campus and disciples right where they have questions ... that is, is Christianity truth or hokum?

  Read related Extra-Biblical Historical Evidence of Jesus

  Link to other Evidences by John Lankford

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